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Signs You Need To See The Optometrist Before Your Scheduled Eye Exam

Regular eye exams are important to ensure your vision isn't changing. There are other circumstances where you should schedule an appointment with your optometrist outside your routine eye screening, however. Here are three signs it may be time to see the eye doctor.

Your Eyes Are Inflamed

Conjunctivitis — often called "pinkeye" — is a common eye infection, especially in children. The thin lining over the white part of the eye is called the conjunctiva, and it will turn pink or red when irritated. The affected eye may also feel sore or ooze a yellow sticky fluid. The eye(s) may be "glued" shut upon waking.

Pinkeye may be caused by a virus, including the common cold, but it is often caused by bacteria, especially in kids who aren't good about washing their hands. Pinkeye can also be caused by irritants, such as regularly swimming in a chlorinated pool.

While pinkeye isn't usually serious, it can sometimes occur in conjunction with sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. People can also mistake other eye infections, such as periorbital cellulitis and dacryocystitis, which is a tear duct blockage, for pinkeye. In order to prevent complications and eye damage and to ensure something more serious isn't at work, be sure to see your optometrist right away if your eye is pink and inflamed.

You Have Sudden Severe Eye Pain

Eye pain that comes out of nowhere and isn't caused by an injury is a medical emergency, especially if the eye pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting. These symptoms, along with visual disturbances, are indicative of acute angle-closure glaucoma.

This is the type of glaucoma that can cause blindness in just a day or two. The other types of glaucoma are just as serious if untreated, they will also lead to blindness. However, rather than severe eye pain and nausea, a loss of peripheral vision is the usual first indicator something is wrong.

You Have a Lot of Floaters

People commonly get eye floaters as they age. This phenomenon of seeing little specks or cobwebs floating around in your field of vision is caused by microscopic tissue fibers in the jelly part of your eyeball casting shadows.

If you suddenly notice a lot of eye floaters, flashes of light, or dimmed peripheral vision, or if you have other questions related to optometry, contact your optometrist immediately. The retina can be torn or even become detached from aging, infection, or injury. A torn or detached retina can threaten your sight.